Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Paddling up the River Why

After a nice bike ride in to work on this beautiful summer morning--thanks to all you drivers out there for climate change, which seems to be making northern Virginia summers tolerable--I got to my desk and saw my voice mail light was on.

That's not good.

I called in for my messages. It was from Mama's number.

That's not good.

My mind was racing: today is a school day, were they in a crash? Are they on their way to a hospital? Which hospital is closest? How fast could I get there? Who could drive me there?

And then her voice came on...

"Hi, it's 3B and Mommy calling. And we're calling...can you ask Daddy the question?"

Then I could hear 3B's voice say loud and clear, "Did Lucky Lindy fly in a plane called a Mosquito?"


I suppose I can cancel the red alert.

For the record, the answer, which I somehow know, is no. Lucky Lindy flew in a custom built plane--with no forward-facing window, by the way--and the Mosquito was a WWII bomber.

The question is in keeping with this week's theme, announced by 3B on Monday when he began asking Why? I noticed when I accompanied him on a bike ride after I got home from work and a motorcycle pulled in and parked in front of us. The rider commented on how nice 3B's motorcycle is before going in to his house.

Of course, we had to sit and admire the motorcycle for a moment. I asked 3B what sound it was making.


There was a pause.

"Why is it ticking?"

"Because the engine is hot, like he told us, and now that he turned it off, it's cooling down."

"Why is it hot?"

Dang, I hadn't even gotten a chance to get to the metal contracting part of my answer, but OK..."It's hot because engines burn gasoline and when gasoline burns, it's hot, like a flame on a candle."

"Why does it burn gasoline?"

"Because when gasoline burns, it explodes, and when it explodes, it pushes the motorcycle forward. When it explodes, it goes from very small to very big, very fast."

I then used my hands and the pedals of his trike to show 3B how this worked, after which he decided that was enough asking Why? and started to pedal home, but not before one last look at the spare helmet on the back of the motorcycle, "Flames!"

"Yes, nice flames on the helmet."

It's not all pleasant curiosity, however. Mama said that yesterday, the River Why ran through this soliloquy, delivered in full voice:

"Why are you yelling!? Why are you hitting me!? Why are you yelling!? Why are you hitting me!?"

I believe the stage directions for the his majesty at that moment read, "Exeunt little king to time out."

We've done a little of our own asking Why? after Mama's 34-week appointment yesterday. The doctor remarked that the baby seems a bit big and after checking 3B's birth weight--8 pounds, 15 ounces for those of you keeping score at home--decided that she wanted Mama to get another ultrasound to measure baby sister's head.

So, actually our questions have been more along the lines of What if...?

But we don't have any daddy at his office to call for an answer, so we'll just wait two weeks for our 36-week appointment.

Subscribe to the Bradstein feed--Vorsprung durch Technik!


  1. Welcome to the Thriving Threes and the unlimited questions "Why?" Best cure for my kids was to ask Why back at them, because as much as you would like to share all your knowledge with them, they just say it out of habit and to hear themselves talk... not really for an answer.

    If you do run out of answers, I am loaded and my kids have reached the age where they can appreciate just an answer... usually first, before the question.

  2. You need to put 3B on a heavy diet of RFK, immediately. Why not?

    (For the record, in the Spirit of St. Louis, Lucky Lindy flew with sandwiches: an eminently sensible traveler.)

    Just what our family needs: One more heavy thinker with a great big head.

  3. So that's how engines work! I think your kid is smarter than I am, honestly - all thanks to his very smart parents! Will you adopt me?

  4. Anonymous2:37 PM

    I have to admit that I secretly love it when my kids ask how things work.

    Anthropapa always makes them ask me, because I can come up with simple yet true off-the-cuff explanations that somehow satisfy them. If the kids asked him about why the motorcycle was hot, he would go into full mechanical engineer mode and their eyes would have glazed over.

  5. Hey!! I'm not that bad at answering their questions. You are better at it though.

  6. KMoo: Oh, I'm not looking for a cure, and 3B isn't asking just to hear himself talk. He stands attentively, listens intently and then uses whatever we tell him, usually in play, but often later in related situations.

    MrJ: Another feature of Lindy's flight is that he couldn't see what was directly in front of him.

    LB: You know we would adopt you in an instant. Ready to be a big sister to a 3-year-old, though?

    Amama & Apapa: I'm not touching that debate, but I will say that if I run out of answers, you two are my phone-a-friend lifeline.